Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (Darjeeling Zoo)

Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, commonly known as Darjeeling Zoo, is the highest altitude zoo in India at an average elevation of 7000 ft. It is one of the major attractions in Darjeeling sightseeing, which attracts about 300000 visitors every year. Spreading over an area of 67.56 acres, the zoo is specialized captive breeding programs for the snow leopard, red panda, and critically endangered Himalayan wolves.

Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (Darjeeling Zoo) entrance

History of Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Darjeeling

The zoo was opened as Himalayan Zoological Park on 26th July 1957 as a joint venture between the Governments of West Bengal and India. After visiting the zoo in 1975, Srimati Indira Gandhi, former prime minister of India, renamed it Padma Naidu Himalayan National Park in honor of Padmaja Naidu, the former governor of West Bengal. The park was transferred to the forest department of the West Bengal Department in May 1993, and now it is also popularly known as Darjeeling Zoo.

history of Darjeeling zoo

Animals, birds, and other attractions of Darjeeling zoo

As you enter through the zoo’s gate, you will see souvenirs and small food shops on the left. On the right hand, you will find a detailed map of the zoo which comes pretty handy during the visit. The comfortable weather of Darjeeling makes the zoo ideal for these wild animals.

Darjeeling zoo map

As you proceed more, you will reach the center point of the zoo. Here, you will see a beautiful garden full of ornamental plants and flowers. There is also a facility for a toilet nearby this location.

Darjeeling zoo garden

in the uphill direction, you can see the most famous red pandas of Darjeeling zoo. The zookeepers follow a strict diet chart for the red pandas. Each day, one egg, four bananas, 300 ml milk, 4 kg bamboo leaves, 30 ml honey, 200 g apple, and 200 g seasonal fruits are allocated for them.

red panda in Darjeeling zoo
Red Panda

You will surely enjoy the activities of the cute little red pandas. These small endangered mammals are native to the eastern Himalayas and can also be seen in Singalila National Park during Sandakphu trek nearby Darjeeling. Please keep silent while watching the red pandas as they are solitary animals and hide when disturbed.

reptile house

A little further up from the red Panda’s enclosure, you can see the reptile house. The house consists of Indian Rock Python, Russel Viper, Indian Sand Boa, and other endangered snakes. Besides the reptile house, small animals like the leopard cat, common palm civet, commonly known as toddy cat, and slow Loris can be seen further up on the road.

leopard cat in Darjeeling zoo
Leopard Cat

After crossing the small animals’ enclosure, you can see the birds of the pheasant family. The most impressive birds of Darjeeling zoo are Temminck’s Tragopan, the bright red-and-orange colored pheasant, Himalayan Monal with multicolored plumage, Lady Amherst’s pheasant, and Reeves’s Pheasant.

Temminck's Tragopan in darjeeling zoo
Temminck’s Tragopan
Himalayan Monal in Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park
Himalayan Monal

After seeing these birds, you have to go back to the center point of the zoo, right beside the enclosure of the Himalayan black bear. This animal is a major attraction of Darjeeling zoo.

Himalayan black bear in Darjeeling zoo
Himalayan Black Bear

On the opposite side of the bear, you will see the Himalayan Tahrs, beautiful wild goats with a threatened population. Besides the enclosure of Himalayan Tahrs, there are Markhors, a large Capra species with screw-shaped horns and a beard. You can see the Sambar deer in the next section. It is the largest among Indian deer, common in forested hillsides and woodlands in India. You can also see Bharal or Himalayan Blue Sheep with a short, dense coat and slate grey in color, sometimes with a bluish sheen.

Himalayan tahr in zoo
Himalayan Tahr

After that, if you go a little further up, you will see the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. You can visit there or climb up along the road to see the tigers and wolves of Darjeeling zoo. You will see snow leopard and black panther on the right side of the pathway.

black panther in the zoo
Black Panther

After walking a little more, you will see the aviary located at the highest point of the zoo. Blue gold Macaw, rose-ringed parakeet, silver pheasant, galah rose-breasted cockatoo parrot, and the grey parrot will surely amaze you.

galah rose-breasted cockatoo parrot
Rose-Breasted Cockatoo Parrot
silver pheasant in the zoo
Silver Pheasant

Next to the aviary, you can visit the Bengal Natural History Museum, which houses a vast collection of stuffed specimens of birds, reptiles, mammals, insects, etc. From the museum, a pathway leads down to the entry point of the zoo.

Himalayan wolf in Darjeeling zoo
Himalayan Wolf

The Himalayan wolves can be seen on the right-hand side of the road. And a little further, to the left, you will see the Royal Bengal Tiger roaming around. The enclosure of the bear can be seen again on the left.

How to reach the zoo in Darjeeling?

The zoo is located at Jawahar Parvat on Jorethang Road near Birch Hill Resort. During your sightseeing in Darjeeling, visit the zoo and other tourist places like Rock Garden, Batasia Loop, Tea Gardens, and Peace Pagoda. The charge for the car ranges from ₹3000 to ₹5000, depending on your itinerary and type of car. However, if you only want to visit the zoo, hire a taxi from Chowk bazaar in Darjeeling 3 Km away. The zoo is located uphill beside the Lebong Cart Road. From the parking point, it takes five to ten minutes to reach the entrance gate of the zoo.

signage directions inside the zoo

Entry fee and visiting time in Darjeeling zoo

The entry fee of the zoo is ₹60 for Indians and the people of SAARC countries and ₹100 for other foreign countries. With the same ticket, you can also visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and the Bengal Natural History Museum. Apart from it, ₹10 is charged for the still camera.

Visiting hours at the zoo is from 8.30 AM to 4 PM. However, on Thursdays, the zoo remains closed. During other festivals, the visiting hours might differ. So, if you are visiting the zoo during the festive seasons, you can directly call their phone number 03542253709 to know the exact timing on that day.

Tips for visiting Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park

Tips for visiting Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park

  • Never tease, feed, make contact, or cause disturbance by noise or otherwise to the animals and birds in the zoo. Also, do not litter the grounds. Instead, use the dustbins located inside the zoo premises. Otherwise, the zoo authority can enforce section 38J of the Wildlife Protection Act with the punishment of a fine and/or imprisonment.
  • While walking, look up. Look at the wild trees, orchids, wildflowers, and free-ranging birds. This zoo is the only place other than Raj Bhawan where one can get a glimpse of the original Himalayan forest of Darjeeling.
  • Always keep silent nearby the cages. Animals and birds are more sensitive to sound than humans. Some can even hear sounds five times louder than us.
  • Take photographs from a distance as the sound of the shutter or flashlight can disturb the zoo animals.
  • There are a lot of signages placed around the premises. Follow them to proceed in the right direction. Do not try to climb any walls of the enclosures.
  • Smoking and drinking alcohol inside the zoo is strictly prohibited.
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Koyeli Biswas

Koyeli is a passionate traveler, hiker, and trekker with a tremendous experience in India. Backed by an M.Sc. degree in environmental science, she is a teacher and expert travel blogger focusing on sustainable and eco-friendly tourism practices.

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